Turkey’s Er­do­gan threat­ens daily over Syria arms video

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has threat­ened an op­po­si­tion daily which pub­lished footage al­legedly show­ing trucks be­long­ing to the state in­tel­li­gence ser­vice car­ry­ing weapons to rebels in Syria, vow­ing it will pay a “heavy price.”

“The slan­der against the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the il­le­git­i­mate op­er­a­tion (against MIT trucks) is an es­pi­onage ac­tiv­ity at one point,” Er­do­gan told state-run TRT tele­vi­sion late Sun­day. “This news­pa­per was also in­volved in this es­pi­onage ac­tiv­ity.”

“The per­son who made the story will pay a heavy price. I will not let him get away with it,” said the pres­i­dent, who has threat­ened other me­dia out­lets in the run-up to this week’s tense par­lia­men­tary elec­tion.

The footage pub­lished on the op­po­si­tion Cumhuriyet daily’s web­site on Fri­day shows in­spec­tors search­ing a metal­lic con­tainer watched by se­cu­rity of­fi­cers, a pros­e­cu­tor and snif­fer dogs.

The daily claimed the trucks were car­ry­ing mor­tar shells, ammunition for light and heavy weapons as well as hun­dreds of grenade launch­ers hid­den un­der boxes of an­tibi­otics marked as “frag­ile.”

Turk­ish pros­e­cu­tors swiftly opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the daily on charges of “ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion on state se­cu­rity,” “po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary es­pi­onage” and “pro­pa­ganda for a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Cumhuriyet edi­tor-in-chief Can Dun­dar hit back the Erodgan, tweet­ing, “We are not civil ser­vants but jour­nal­ists. Our duty is not to hide the state’s dirty se­crets but to call it to ac­count in the name of peo­ple.”

“The per­son who com­mit­ted this crime will pay a heavy price,” he added, re­fer­ring to the pres­i­dent. “We will not let him get away with it,”

Turkey has ve­he­mently de­nied aid­ing ji­hadists in Syria in­clud­ing the Is­lamic State (IS) group, claim­ing the in­ter­cepted aid was bound for the Turk­men mi­nor­ity in Syria.

In an in­ter­view with AFP, Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu claimed the re­lease of the images was an elec­tion ploy, and de­nounced what he called an “il­le­gal ac­tion” against Turkey’s in­ter­ests.

He said Turkey had helped the rebel Free Syr­ian Army with­out spec­i­fy­ing if it has sup­plied them mil­i­tar­ily.

Ten­sions are mount­ing in the run-up to the June 7 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, with the Jus­tice and De- vel­op­ment Party (AKP) seek­ing to pro­long its 13-year hold on power.

The rul­ing party de­nies rebels fight­ing in Syria and ac­cused dozens of pros­e­cu­tors, sol­diers and se­cu­rity of­fi­cers in­volved in search­ing the trucks last year of at­tempt­ing to bring it down through such claims.

Also, Er­do­gan has in­vited the main op­po­si­tion party leader to in­spect the toi­lets in his lav­ish, 1,150-room palace af­ter the politi­cian claimed that it had gold-plated toi­let seats.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said Er­do­gan’s of­fice ex­tended the in­vi­ta­tion on Mon­day, fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions by secular party leader Ke­mal Kil­ic­daroglu and other op­po­si­tion par­ties of ex­ces­sive spend­ing of tax­pay­ers’ money by the pres­i­dent on lux­u­ries. Turkey holds gen­eral elec­tions on Sun­day.

AP

Hold­ing car­na­tions, ban­ners and pic­tures of the peo­ple that lost their lives in the Gezi Park protests, demon­stra­tors chant slo­gans to mark the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the start of 2013 na­tion­wide anti-gov­ern­ment protests in Istanbul, Turkey on Sun­day, May 31.

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